Video Vault – Feb 12, 2020
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
MY BLOODY VALENTINE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): During the slasher era, holidays were fair game (Black Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s Evil, et al), and the romantic day named for St. Valentine turned plenty bloody in this Canadian-made 1981 shocker given a big release by Paramount Pictures, which had scored a direct hit with Friday the 13th the year before.
Some 20 years after a tragic mining accident, the town of Valentine Bluffs hasn’t held its annual Valentine’s Day dance. That’s about to change this year, but the festivities are threatened by a killer in miner’s garb who’s been hacking and slashing away. When a group of revelers decides – quite unwisely – to party inside the mine, the killer’s there, too.
Storywise, there’s not much to My Bloody Valentine. There’s an obligatory love triangle between Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier (in her screen debut), and Neil Affleck, potential victims are played by such up-and-coming Canadian talent as Helene Udy, Alf Humphreys, Keith Knight, and Cynthia Dale (in her screen debut), and veteran character actor Don Francks offers a polished turn as the local police chief.
Visually, the film’s terrific, as director George Mihalka captures the bleak landscape of a mining town in the throes of economic collapse, with fine work from cinematographer Rodney Gibbons (who creates a truly foreboding mood in and out of the mines), and composer Paul Zaza (a genre favorite thanks to Prom Night and other scare fare). Needless to say, it’s a cult favorite, and spawned a (superior) 2009 remake.
The two-disc collector’s-edition Blu-ray ($34.93 retail) includes both the theatrical version and director’s cut, audio commentary, 35th-anniversary reunion panel, retrospective interviews and featurettes, theatrical trailer, and more. Rated R. **
BAD COMPANY: OFFICIAL AUTHORIZED 40TH ANNIVERSARY DOCUMENTARY (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Executive producer/director Jon Brewer’s self-explanatory 2014 feature documentary traces the history of the Grammy-nominated, British-based rock group whose chart-topping hits include “Bad Company,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Rock & Roll Fantasy,” “Shooting Star,” and others, featuring interviews with surviving band members Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, and Mick Ralphs, along with such fellow rockers as Brian May, Jason Bonham, Zoot Money, Joe Elliott, Sam Moore, and others, available on Blu-ray ($24.95 retail).
THE DIVINE FURY (Well Go USA Entertainment): Writer/director Joo-han (“Jason”) Kim’s award-winning martial-arts shocker (originally titled Saja) stars Park Seo-joon as a champion fighter recruited to assist priest Ahn Sung-ki perform exorcisms – until he himself is possessed by evil spirits. In Korean with English subtitles, or there’s an English-dubbed audio option, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.98 retail).
GEMINI MAN (Paramount Home Entertainment): Retired government assassin Will Smith is pitted against his ultimate enemy – a younger, stronger clone of himself charged with exterminating him – in this sci-fi thriller directed by Ang Lee, with Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong, and Ralph Brown caught in the crossfire, available on DVD ($29.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), and 4K Ultra HD combo ($34.99 retail).
THE GOOD LIAR (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): The sheer pleasure of watching Ian McKellen (as a crafty con artist) and Helen Mirren (as his latest mark) is more than sufficient recommendation for this stylish thriller based on Nicholas Searle’s best-selling novel, the details of which should not be revealed lest it spoil the fun. Scintillating, suspenseful, and a true acting showcase for its infinitely talented leads, available on DVD ($28.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail) – each boasting bonus features. Rated R. ***½
THE GREAT MYSTICAL CIRCUS (Kino Lorber): Inspired by Jorge de Lima’s poem, screenwriter/director Carlos Diegues’s award-winning drama (originally titled O Grande Circo Mistico) follows the triumphs and travails of five generations of an Austrian family and their traveling circus, from the early 20th century to the early 21st century, featuring Jesuita Barbosa, Mariana Ximenes, Antonio Fagundes, and Vincent Cassel. In Portuguese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail), with bonus features.
“GUNSMOKE”: THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH SEASONS (CBS DVD/Paramount): James Arness saddles up again as Dodge City’s marshal Matt Dillon, in all 24 episodes from the 1970-’71 season and all 24 episodes from the 1971-’72 season of the long-running, award-winning CBS Western series created by Charles Marquis Warren, with Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, and Ken Curtis rounding out the regular cast. Each six-disc DVD retails for $49.98.
“HITCHCOCK: BRITISH INTERNATIONAL PICTURES COLLECTION” (Kino Classics): A self-explanatory five-film selection of early works by legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, made when he was just beginning his estimable career in his native England: The silent boxing drama The Ring (1927), the silent 1928 romantic comedy The Farmer’s Wife, the silent 1928 comedy Champagne, the silent 1929 adaptation of Hall Caine’s best-selling novel The Manxman (Hitchock’s last silent film), and the 1931 adaptation of John Galsworthy’s stage drama The Skin Game, available on DVD ($39.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($49.95 retail), each replete with bonus features including audio commentaries, new music scores, and more.
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (IFC Films/Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Never one to shy away from controversy, Lars von Trier’s award-winning psychological thriller stars Matt Dillon in the title role, a ’70s-era serial killer who recounts his “career” in five episodes, with Uma Thurman, Riley Keough, Jeremy Davies, and the late Bruno Ganz in support. Both the two-disc DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail) include both the director’s cut and theatrical version, trailers, and more.
“I GOT YOU BABE: THE BEST OF SONNY & CHER” (Time Life): A five-DVD collector’s set ($40.99 retail) of 10 never-before-released episodes from the Emmy-winning CBS comedy/variety series The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1971-’74), hosted by the popular husband-and-wife singing duo of Sonny Bono and Cher, with guest appearances by Art Carney, Carroll O’Connor, Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark, Dinah Shore, The Righteous Brothers, Joe Namath, Jim Nabors, The Supremes, and others, plus bonus features.
“KEEPING FAITH”: SERIES 2 (Acorn TV): Eve Myles portrays a small-town Welsh lawyer whose life is thrown into chaos after her husband and business partner (Bradley Freegard) inexplicably disappears, in all six episodes from the inaugural 2019 season of the award-winning BBC Wales mystery series created by Matthew Hall, filmed on location in Wales and featuring Mark Lewis Jones, Hannah Daniel, Lacey Jones, Eiry Thomas, Rhian Morgan, and Aneirin Hughes in support. Both the two-disc DVD ($39.99 retail) and two-disc Blu-ray ($49.99 retail) include behind-the-scenes featurette.
MON MON MON MONSTERS! (Shudder/RLJE Films): Writer/director Giddens Ko’s award-winning comedy/shocker (originally titled Guai guai guai guaiwu!) is long on style and short on taste, as a rowdy group of students come across a pair of flesh-eating ghouls. Jokey, over-the-top, and clearly aiming for cult status, rather too stridently, available on DVD ($27.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($28.97 retail). **
MOVING PARTS (IndiePix Films): Writer/producer/director Emilie Upczek’s debut feature stars Valerie Tian as an illegal Chinese immigrant struggling to assimilate in Japan while trying to pay off her debt to the human traffickers who smuggled her in. Low-key and well-intentioned, but feels incomplete and unfinished, despite Tian’s affecting turn. In English and Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.95 retail). **
THE NIGHTINGALE (IFC Films/Shout! Factory): Writer/producer/director Jennifer Kent’s award-winning drama, set in early 19th-century Australia, stars Aisling Franciosi as a traumatized young woman bent on avenging the death of her husband and child at the hands of sadistic Army officer Sam Claflin, with Baykali Ganambarr (in an impressive screen debut) as the Aborigine tracker who aids her. Harrowing, hard-hitting, and not for all tastes – but an impressive saga nonetheless, and its historical bearing is undoubtedly rooted in reality. Both the DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail) include bonus features. Rated R. ***
PINK ZONE (Indican Pictures): Filmmaker Benjamin Walter’s award-winning 2014 debut feature takes place in a dystopian future where women are an endangered species and confined to the titular safe area, which becomes less safe when it’s raided by a gang of teenaged boys. A potentially intriguing premise is broad-sided by awkward shifts in narrative and tone, although newcomer Jayna Sweet is a standout as the heroine. *½
“ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT” (Time Life): The title tells all in this six-disc Blu-ray collection ($69.99 retail) of highlights from the 2009-’17 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, including live performances by such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Simon & Garfunkel, Journey, Billy Joel, Bruce Springseen & The E Street Band, Alice Cooper, Chicago, Electric Light Orchestra, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Paul Simon, Crosby, Stills & Nash, U2, and many others – plus a slew of bonus features for music mavens.
TERROR FIRMER (Troma Entertainment/CAV Distributing): A two-disc “20th Anniversary” special-edition Blu-ray ($29.99 retail) of writer/producer/director Lloyd Kaufman’s light-hearted, gore-soaked 1999 slasher send-up, in which he plays the blind filmmaking auteur whose latest low-budget production is hampered, to say the least, by the presence of a serial killer in the crew’s midst. As befits the Troma label, this is typically outrageous, cult-friendly fare, with numerous nods to Troma’s previous films and a cast of Troma favorites including Debbie Rochon, Trent Haaga, Ron Jeremy, Matt Parker and Trey Stone, Joe Fleishaker, future filmmaker Eli Roth, and Lemmy (of Motorhead). Troma devotees have a big head start. Then again, don’t they always? Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective interviews, full-length documentary, music videos, trailers, and more. **
(Copyright 2020, Mark Burger)